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Old 05-23-2016, 11:21 AM   #1
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Pistol-caliber carbines, both magnum and non-magnum

This is one of my favorite subjects; I'm a much bigger fan of handgun-caliber carbines than a lot of folks are. I posted this a while back on another forum, going mostly from memory. I've since checked my old spreadsheets and updated the chrono and energy information to be accurate.

First, disclaimers and admissions. I'll probably use the terms "pistol" and "handgun" interchangeably - yes I do know the difference. I also understand and agree that a pistol-caliber carbine isn't an MBR and won't do everything an M14 or an SSG can do.

Yes, I do know that there are "cons" to the pistol-caliber carbine; chiefly that they can sometimes be as big as a much more powerful "real-caliber" carbine.

But there are also (imo, huge) "pros" to them, pros that a lot of people don't seem aware of; hence this thread.

First, is power increase of the bullet over their pistol-launched siblings. In a non-magnum pistol caliber such as 9mm, .40, etc, you "only" gain 30-60% power-wise over a handgun. But that "only" means that a 9mm from a carbine is more powerful than a whole lot of full-house .357 magnum loads from a handgun. My primary 9mm carry load for glocks (federal 9bple) runs right at 1300 fps from a g19, which is pretty good for a compact 9mm handgun. The same load runs 1615 fps (667 ft/lbs) from the little camp-9 carbine; putting out more power than most full-house .357 handgun loads, even from a full-size 6” revolver. Put in another frame of reference, it means that the much-maligned 9mm carbine is actually more powerful than the vaunted and worshipped 10mm pistols that so many internet posters fantasize about.

Another advantage is useability (if that's a word) by smaller, weaker users. While the 9mm in that example above is putting out more power than a full-house .357 or 10mm handgun, it's a WHOLE lot easier for kids & small women to shoot than those pistols at the same power level. Just the nature of recoil from a carbine vs. from a handgun.

Going to the magnum-handgun-caliber carbines, we see a monstrous gain in power over their handgun counterparts. You can basically figure 'one magnum-caliber up' when using magnum-handgun caliber carbines. What I mean by that is that a .357 carbine will roughly equal a .44 magnum handgun power-wise; and a .44 magnum carbine will (yes, really) roughly equal a .454 Casull handgun power-wise. And anyone who's used both a .44 levergun and a .454 handgun will testify that the .44 levergun is HUGELY less traumatic to shoot. Yet it can take any game that the .454 handgun can, out to even further ranges due to the increased sight radius and better controllability. Now when we get to the .454 Casull carbine, I don't know a handgun to compare it to frankly. Power-wise, it's between the .30-06 and .300WM rifle rounds; believe it or not. My simple 20" puma .454 launches a 240-grain XTP-Mag at 2430fps, for more than 3,100 ft/lbs of energy. It launches a 260-grain Winchester Partition with 2987 ft/lbs. And those are both factory loads; handloading (which I do) opens up a whole new realm of capabilities. There's not a thing on the North American continent that the 240 XTP-Mag from that gun can't kill out to a couple hundred yards; and believe it or not, will stay within ¾" of zero, from muzzle out to 110-120 yards, which is pretty good for a .45-caliber 'handgun' bullet from a carbine. Beyond 150 or so, it does drop fast; no denying that, but I already agreed that it can't do "everything" an MBR can, and the odds of me (given my area and situation) needing to ever shoot at those ranges yards is hugely remote.

Another serious advantage the magnum-caliber carbines have over the autopistol-caliber carbines is versatility and wide choices in power level. Those examples above are for full loads, but there's no rule that says you have to always use full loads. (Again, sticking with the .454 carbine as the most-extreme example) Even if using strictly factory loads, you can get rounds loaded from the maximums above, down to .44 magnum levels (Winchester’s .454 250-grain JHP is a nice, mildish .44magnum-level load), down more to the .45LC+P such as the Corbon and buffalo bore, all the way down to the ridiculously mild .45LC "cowboy" loads that feel about like shooting a .22 rifle. So in that one carbine, you've got a gun that's got a logical, factory-available ammo choice for any animal on the continent - from rabbit to polar bear - out to as far as most folks can hunt with an iron-sighted gun anyway. All with no adapters, no conversion kits, no gas-system adjustments, no barrel inserts, etc. You just simply decide which round to load it with, and go on about your day. If you handload, you not only have multiple power options between those power levels, we have infinite options between those power levels. Try that with an AR, M14, AK, etc; as good as they are, they can't do that.


Also, don't forget that the handgun-caliber carbines (magnum or not) also offer ammo commonality between handgun and long gun. Perhaps not a tier-one consideration, but still a valid consideration, especially if traveling on foot.


Lastly, linked to versatility and ammo options but rarely thought of concerning leverguns, is suppressability. I've more than once posted a pic of my suppressed .357 carbine here, With just-subsonic 158-grain JSP or JHP loads, it's still putting out more muzzle energy than a mil-spec .45acp load. Yet the suppressor, the sealed breech of the levergun, and the 16" barrel length, all combine to make it literally quieter than my gamo .177 pellet rifle, and will throw those rounds near silently, as fast and often as you can work the lever (which with a red-dot and zero recoil is pretty fast with practice). That makes it not only a phenomenal nuisance-critter gun, but in a shtf situation has all kinds of potential as well. It gives up the faster follow-up shots of a semiauto, but that's one of those compromise things I mentioned earlier. With practice, a broken-in, short-action levergun with a red dot and suppressor, launching subsonic bullets, can be surprisingly fast. It'll never equal the rate of fire of an AR, AK, etc, but it's capable of a lot more than a lot of people expect.

For non-defensive use, the single-shot suppressed .357 is even lighter and handier for dispatching nuisance critters.


If (as is often discussed here) I "could have only one" carbine, one of the magnum-pistol leverguns would definitely be in the "top five" options for a lot of situations. If I knew ahead of time that I was facing a Walking Dead or Postman situation, then sure, it'd be one of the CAR-15's; but if I knew it was a Castaway, Daniel Boone, or 'The Road' situation, I'd actually rather have the levergun. No adapters or separate magazines to lose, no DI gas system blowing crud back into the gun's action; just a simpler (albeit slower) design.


JMO and more long-winded than I intended ; but it's opinion and observation based on decades of both owning and using numerous types and calibers of longarms, from single-shots to lever-actions to AR's and AK's.
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Old 05-23-2016, 11:46 AM   #2
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And then,I " reverse "it by running my " large pistols" in 7.62x39 and 7.62x25 ....with their 10 inch barrels and sling support they're shootable.... And the ballistics are not to be casually shrugged off-either by barriers or those behind the barriers.
But than again, I'm something of an " outlier" in several areas;so I make do with what I can lay hands on.
 
Old 05-23-2016, 11:58 AM   #3
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I don't shoot 7.62x25, but from a 10" barrel it's likely to be sizzling...
 
 
Old 05-23-2016, 12:35 PM   #4
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Oh,it steps out. It's very fast from my Tokarevs and CZ52. From my PPS43C,it averages 175-300 FPS faster; depending on ammo lots and quality...those bottleneck cases seem to transcend the laws of physics-even accounting for case volume.
 
Old 05-23-2016, 12:39 PM   #5
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ever take a look at what 9mm magsafe gets, from a carbine barrel? 45 grs at 2600 fps, or something like that. when you change the material, make the bullet of the straightwalled case just as light, and load to the same pressures, it's the straightwalled case that outperforms, not the bottlenecked case.
 
Old 05-23-2016, 12:49 PM   #6
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Never tried the super-light stuff. Lightest one I've chrono'ed thru the Camp-9 is the 100-grain Pow'rBall. Believe it or not, it averages 1826 fps from the short 16.5" barrel; or 740 ft/lbs. From a 9mm...

Not following what you mean on straight-walled case vs. bottleneck cases...?
 
Old 05-23-2016, 01:10 PM   #7
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Light for caliber can work, but my own preferences lie with the " middleweight to heavy " spectrum... If one can get more out while retaining bullet weight AND not overload either the cartridge or the platform/weapon-thats a good thing... At least when dealing with commonly available bullet types and loaded ammo.
Nikto-I thought you were out and about until 07/04/16. Everything OK?
 
Old 05-23-2016, 02:44 PM   #8
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Okay, time for some porn...

My Camp-9 as finally set up - (Really wish they still made this gun.) Rear is a normal bushnell red dot in extra-high rings; front is a DBAL clone with visible laser, IR laser, and IR flood. This setup puts the red dot higher than ideal, but it's worth it for me personally to have the zero-fuss option of switching between regular optic or NV use. Sighted at 60 yards keeps it within 1.5" of POA from 5 to 75 yards; and the short ranges I use this at, the extra mounting height isn't as bad as it sometimes would be. Nice thing about the d-bal type unit is that in IR mode, it's invisible to the naked eye, yet if you're wearing night-vision you've got a flood beam with a laser dot in the middle of it. Seriously handy for night critters that are pestering pets or stock. I had the 12" picatinny rail mounted when it was threaded.

With the suppressor in place:


Suppressed, it's not as quiet as the lever-action or single-shot guns with same-power loads, that's the inevitable trade-off for the faster follow-up shots of the semiauto. The blowback action makes it about as loud as a suppressed 9mm pistol; still very quiet, but not not up with the sealed-breech lever action. But it's still pretty good, and can be instantly switched between subsonic loads with .45acp hardball power and high-velocity loads with 650+ ft/lbs with just a magazine swap.
 
Old 05-23-2016, 03:08 PM   #9
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The .357 single-shot, with the same abraxas suppressor; inexpensive little H&R:


Without suppressor, it looks odd, but still over 16" so no NFA issues, and still as powerful as a .44 magnum handgun when using full magnum loads:


With subsonic loads thru the artificial-environment suppressor, it's Hollywood-quiet; just remarkable to think about when remembering that (like the 9mm subsonics) it's putting out .45acp hardball power levels with only BB gun noise. Not a fighting gun by any means, but for a ridiculously inexpensive pest-control gun, it's been hugely capable.
 
Old 05-23-2016, 03:20 PM   #10
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How's the durability of those Marlin Camper's Carbines? IIRC,they were " standard pressure only " guns.
 
Old 05-23-2016, 03:35 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John in AR View Post
Okay, time for some porn...

My Camp-9 as finally set up - (Really wish they still made this gun.) Rear is a normal bushnell red dot in extra-high rings; front is a DBAL clone with visible laser, IR laser, and IR flood. This setup puts the red dot higher than ideal, but it's worth it for me personally to have the zero-fuss option of switching between regular optic or NV use. Sighted at 60 yards keeps it within 1.5" of POA from 5 to 75 yards; and the short ranges I use this at, the extra mounting height isn't as bad as it sometimes would be. Nice thing about the d-bal type unit is that in IR mode, it's invisible to the naked eye, yet if you're wearing night-vision you've got a flood beam with a laser dot in the middle of it. Seriously handy for night critters that are pestering pets or stock. I had the 12" picatinny rail mounted when it was threaded.

With the suppressor in place:


Suppressed, it's not as quiet as the lever-action or single-shot guns with same-power loads, that's the inevitable trade-off for the faster follow-up shots of the semiauto. The blowback action makes it about as loud as a suppressed 9mm pistol; still very quiet, but not not up with the sealed-breech lever action. But it's still pretty good, and can be instantly switched between subsonic loads with .45acp hardball power and high-velocity loads with 650+ ft/lbs with just a magazine swap.
I don't own any pistol caliber carbines; I have two Ar-15 and one SKS carbine. I would love to have that camp carbine set-up. Yes, I would like a 9MM Carbine and pistol set up for kicking around hikes.
 
Old 05-23-2016, 04:26 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gripper View Post
How's the durability of those Marlin Camper's Carbines? IIRC,they were " standard pressure only " guns.
Like a lot of guns, it's not "supposed" to use +P stuff according to the book, and they do have a reputation for beating up their buffers.

But since I bought it used and didn't know how many rounds had been thru it, one of the first things I did was to put in a whole new spring kit including the wolff extra-power main spring. It's been fine with both standard-pressure and +P stuff since; probably only 4000-5000 rounds or so in the nine or ten years I've had it.
 
Old 05-23-2016, 04:44 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry G View Post
I don't own any pistol caliber carbines; I have two Ar-15 and one SKS carbine. I would love to have that camp carbine set-up. Yes, I would like a 9MM Carbine and pistol set up for kicking around hikes.
I always thought the Beretta CX series would make a neat platform for either a suppressed carbine or suppressed SBR. Having the magazine in the pistol grip (instead of in front of the trigger) makes it more compact than the Camp-9 or a 9mm AR, the non-tapered barrel and absence of forearm would make threading simple, and the ability to use 92-series magazines would solve the problem of scarce or prohibitively-expensive mags for it.

From plain-jane:


to however far you wanted to take it:




If I owned a Beretta 92, 8000, or PX series, I'd be all over one of these Beretta carbines in the same caliber. In fact, if I were an apartment-dweller looking for a defensive combo, I'd be looking HARD at that very combo.
 
Old 05-23-2016, 04:53 PM   #14
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I have 3x .357 magnum Lever guns and 2x .44 magnum Lever Guns. Within there limitations the are great guns for hunting intermediate sized game, both 2 and 4 legged and are a heck of a lot of fun to shoot.
 
Old 05-23-2016, 05:02 PM   #15
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Within there limitations the are great guns for hunting intermediate sized game...
+1. My whole reason for this thread was that most gun people just assume they're much more limited than they really are.

If you told someone that your .357 levergun was actually more powerful than an AR-15, most wouldn't believe you. If I told them that properly loaded, my 'puny' 9mm carbine was more powerful than a 10mm Glock 20, they generally don't believe me either. Tell them that a 'girly' 9mm carbine is more powerful than John Wayne's levergun (he carried a .25-20 in most films), and they scream 'BLASPHEMER!!!'...

Much like the M1 Carbine haters, I simply assume that they believe that absence of shooter trauma means absence of power.
 
Old 05-23-2016, 05:32 PM   #16
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Actually I'm very partial to my "John Wayne Commemorative" in .32-40.



I have a very diverse family, 5 of us are competitive shooters and the remainder really aren't interested. If required the levers become a very easy firearm to train them with so they have at least the minimum firearm knowledge to help defend themselves without expending large amounts of ammunition due to bad trigger control or "buck fever".
 
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